From our normal everyday activities to the jobs that we perform, we significantly rely on our hands and shoulders. Therefore, even the slightest shoulder pain can tremendously affect our day-to-day activities and sometimes even put a halt to our work responsibilities. Hence, it is imperative that individuals suffering from shoulder pain must seek proper medical assistance or physiotherapy treatments to ensure that they have a fully functioning shoulder – unimpeded by pain.
Physiotherapy treatments are often suggested by doctors to patients with shoulder and joint pain. The pain you experience could be due to various reasons, including an overuse injury or a traumatic injury. Physical therapy is one of the best non-invasive treatment options to help patients recover from their shoulder pain. Physical therapy is also suggested to patients after a shoulder surgery because physiotherapists can implement safe exercises into the treatment plan to increase shoulder mobility and strength.
The treatment plans can be significantly effective in treating various shoulder pain-causing conditions, including rotator cuff injuries, shoulder arthritis, and shoulder impingements. In most cases, patients are even able to avoid surgeries or other invasive methods with the help of physical therapy.
How Can Physical Therapy Relieve Shoulder Pain?
Doctors usually recommend physiotherapy treatment first before opting for surgery or any other form of therapy. To treat shoulder pain, a physical therapist will have unique treatment plans that are customized for each individual. The experts doing Physiotherapy in Caledonia will initially examine the strength and range of motion of a patient suffering from shoulder pain. They will check the patient’s functional abilities, for example, if the patient is able to reach their hands behind their back or the amount of weight their hands can support.
Physical therapists will also base the treatment plan on the work that the patients perform and on the activities that they include in their daily lifestyle. Physiotherapy treatments for athletes or sports injuries can vary from the regular physical therapy treatment plan. Therefore, a treatment plan will differ based on the type of shoulder injury the patient has sustained. A physiotherapist may include stretching, strengthening, and joint mobilization/stabilization. Heat, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or athletic taping as part of their physical therapy program to relieve shoulder pain.
Moreover, a physical therapist will also provide relevant advice on the daily activity modification and will also include a comprehensive home exercise program that can help patients maintain a quality of life beyond the regular therapy sessions.
To get started, a physiotherapist will:
- Initially, conduct a thorough examination or study to identify the cause of shoulder pain.
- Observe the different activities that the patient seems to have difficulty performing.
- Create a customized exercise and physical therapy treatment plan that thoroughly addresses the patients challenges and improves their shoulder joint movement.
- Use both hands-on physical therapy and equipment to improve blood circulation to the affected shoulder or joint.
- Include aerobic exercises, joint mobility, and muscle-strengthening exercises that can not only reduce shoulder pain but also improve a patients overall health.
- Teach home exercise methods that can be performed alone without the need for assistance from a physical therapist.
- Suggest simple work ergonomics and lifestyle modifications to prevent further joint or shoulder pain.
Physical Therapy Methods That Can relieve Shoulder Pain
As mentioned earlier, your shoulder treatment plan will depend on the type of injury and will be based on the kind of work you perform. Most people believe physical therapy will only include exercises and physical activities to reduce or eliminate pain. On the contrary, physical therapy includes not just exercises but also other well-advanced treatment options such as simulation and ultrasound to help patients overcome their pain.
Hence, based on the specifics of your injury, a physiotherapist will include shoulder therapy and one or more of the following types of treatment.
1. RICE and Heat Therapy
The Rest, Ice, Compression Elevation physiotherapy treatment is often adopted by physical therapists to treat shoulder pain. This method works significantly well in reducing inflammation or swelling. It is mainly used in sports injuries during the first few hours of the injury. Similar to the RICE therapy, heat therapy is also an effective painkiller that enables the joints and muscles to relax. But unlike ice therapy, heat therapy is mainly used after 72 hours have passed.
2. Hands-on Therapy
The physical therapist puts direction-specific pressure on the affected tissue or joint to help it regain some of its natural mobility. A therapist will precisely know which muscle or joint is affected and can help relax the injured shoulder with the help of massage or by moving your joints in a particular direction at varying speeds to regain movement.
Stretching exercises and hands-on stretches will be implemented into your treatment plan. These methods are created to gently push your muscles further and further until you regain your range of motion. Various levels of stretches will be included by the physiotherapist to target the different parts of your shoulder as well as the neck and spine, based on the injury.
4. Joint Mobilization
An injury to the shoulder will undoubtedly limit the hand movement and can even affect the neck movement as well. Joint mobilization techniques can help increase the injured shoulder’s mobility by stretching the joint capsule. Since incorrect movements can even aggravate the pain and even cause more damage, joint mobilization techniques should only be administered by a professionally trained physiotherapist.
Core strengthening treatment plans are a great way to not only reduce the pain of the injured shoulder but also to strengthen the muscles and joints. This physical therapy treatment is an effective way to ensure that the injury will not reoccur.
6. Kinesiology Taping
This method facilitates the contractions of your shoulder muscles. Physiotherapists use this treatment to improve the strength and muscular coordination of your rotator cuff muscles. Moreover, it encourages the shoulder movement in a safe and secure way while increasing circulation.
7. Therapeutic Ultrasound
The therapeutic ultrasound is a type of deep heating treatment for the shoulder pain that is performed by a physical therapist. In this treatment method, the muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue are treated by applying heat. The heat helps in improving circulation and in increasing the elasticity of muscles, specifically in the case of a frozen shoulder.
8. Electrical Stimulation
Electrical stimulation is performed by a trained physiotherapist to stimulate the nerves of the affected shoulder. It can also be effective in muscle contraction or in reducing inflammation.
9. Activity Modification
The shoulder pain could be caused by the activities you perform or due to poor posture or workplace ergonomics. A physical therapist will not only help in treating the shoulder pain but will also ensure that the pain or injury will not reoccur. Therefore, a physical therapist will help you modify the way you perform your daily activities. They can also help you improve workplace ergonomics as well as will suggest joint movement exercises that you can perform by yourself in order to eliminate the shoulder pain completely.
Physical therapy is one of the best ways to treat shoulder pain and various other types of pain in the joints, muscles, etc. Therefore, it is essential that you seek medical assistance as soon as you sustain an injury or feel pain in your shoulders. Because without adequate treatment, shoulder pain or injury will only get worse. Hence, to reduce the chances of surgery and to eliminate the injury such that it doesn’t affect your everyday life, it is imperative that you fix an appointment with a trained physiotherapist who is proficient in human anatomy.
Cindy Williams is a blogger in Canada. She graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.